Martin Scorsese, Todd Phillips & Greta Gerwig Discuss Directing in 1-Hour Roundtable Interview

     January 6, 2020

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The Hollywood Reporter continued their Directors Roundtable series with an in-depth discussion between Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Todd Phillips (Joker), Greta Gerwig (Little Women), Lulu Wang (The Farewell), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) and Fernando Meirelles (The Two Popes). The hour-long interview covers a wide range of interesting topics about filmmaking and the entertainment industry, with a good chunk of time devoted to the current state of movies in the streaming era.

Scorsese goes into what he feels has changed about the industry for better and for worse, illustrating the fact that it took his star-studded film The Irishman almost ten years to find financing, even with the involvement of Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Without Netflix, he suggests, the movie might never have been made. Scorsese also says the length of time they had to wait to actually film the movie made the de-aging effects necessary, as his stars had aged to the point where they could no longer convincingly play younger versions of themselves without serious computer wizardry. (The effects helped inflate the film’s budget to a reported $159 million, one of the largest of Scorsese’s career.)

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Image via A24

Noah Baumbach describes Netflix as the new independent theater, an argument that Lulu Wang somewhat refutes by pointing out that having a film released by a streaming service is less advantageous for new filmmakers because they can get lost in the shuffle, and the services are less likely to really promote movies by directors who don’t yet have an established name. She reveals that she actually turned down an offer from a streaming platform for her film The Farewell, even though they were prepared to put up double the money from her independent studio, for that specific reason.

The table discusses Scorsese’s superhero movie comments, and the director himself clarifies his remarks and puts them in more context. Wang also drops a pretty big nugget by revealing that she was asked to direct a Marvel movie and actually turned it down for the same reason she passed on the streaming offer.

Todd Phillips talks about how difficult it was to get his Joker idea made (he actually saw an internal email at Warner Bros. that read “does he know we sell Joker pajamas at Target?”) and why Scorsese turned down the opportunity to produce it. Baumbach talks about how autobiographical his movies are, and how they’re based on his own memories but are not exact copies. Greta Gerwig talks about how Little Women was like a meta-autobiography for her, because she had memories of reading it as a child, and Louisa May Alcott wrote the book to be semi-autobiographical.

The roundtable is well worth a watch for anyone with any interest in the behind-the-scenes process of filmmaking, as well as anyone who enjoys watching Scorsese and Meirelles be delightfully excited old guys. Check out the video below.

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